Figure 1 Schematic representation of hot water solar system in a building 11
Figure 2 Twenty Years Solar Energy Consumption in different regions 12
Benefits of Solar Energy
There are various sources of energy in the world and these sources include wind energy, tidal powers, solar energy, thermal power, energy from fossil fuel and so forth. Moreover, this alternative renewable energy source can facilitate in minimizing the greenhouse effect. Solar energy has been in use for a long time; however, immense advancement in the field is only taking place in the recent past. The solar technologies can be outlined into two classes as active and passive solar techniques. Solar energy is a unique renewable energy source having benefits as relationship with public utilities, financial incentives, reduced impact on the environment, labour intensiveness, elimination of fossil fuel, geographical benefits, security on the grid and so forth. However, there are some cons of solar energy including long sunny daytime, high cost of solar panels, collectors and cells and expenditures on construction of building solar power stations. The cons are more than the counter balanced by the pros and benefits of solar energy. In addition, technological advancement is tracking these cons, and many of them are already been resolved. Solar energy is advancing in all facets, and the world is turning to a better place.
Benefits of Solar Energy
Man has gifted with various sources of energy in the world. These sources include wind energy, tidal powers, solar energy, thermal power, energy from fossil fuel and so forth. These sources of energy are largely classified into two types, namely; renewable and non-renewable sources. Renewable sources are energy sources that are not likely to run out; they are also known as alternative energy. It includes solar energy, tidal energy and wind energy. Contrary to that non-renewable sources of energy are likely to run out. These include energy from fossil fuel and so forth
Solar energy is an energy derived from radiations of the sun. Solar energy includes radiant light and heat and with the help of the state of the art technologies, this energy is exploited. Some of the technologies available for solar energy include solar thermal electricity, solar heating, solar photovoltaics, artificial photosynthesis and solar architecture. Up to 174 petawatts (PW) of solar energy is trapped by the earth at the upper atmosphere, 30 percent of which is returned to the space, and the rest is absorbed by the landmass, oceans and clouds. These solar lights occur in different spectrums ranging from infrared to visible regions. The solar energy absorbed in the ocean bodies helps in consummating the water cycle which result to rainfall. Out of the 174 PW that comes into the earth, about 3,850,000 Exajoules (EJ) are absorbed by the oceans, landmass and earth surface in a year. That is an enormous amount of energy. All the energies that would ever be obtained from the non-renewable sources can only account for half of this figure. An important factor to be considered for harnessing solar energy in the world today is equatorial distance of any given location.
1.2 Purpose of Report
The main emphasis of this particular report is to evaluate benefits of solar energy as a renewable source. Moreover, it will discuss possible demerits of this energy source. Energy is an integral part of human life in this current modern era. The implementation of solar energy can provide economical benefits as well as it is environmental friendly. In addition few case studies will be briefly discussed that are implemented in different countries.
1.3 Statement of Problem
The traditional world energy sources are depleting rapidly, and there is an increasing need of solar energy. Solar energy has been in use for a long time; however, immense advancement in the field has taken place in the recent past. Moreover, traditional energy sources as oil and gas emit greenhouse gases including CO2 and other pollutant. Consequently they are creating environmental pollution problem and disturbing the ecosystem of the atmosphere. This alternative renewable energy source can facilitate in minimizing the greenhouse effect.
Climatic data analysis is the key step to implement solar energy techniques. The buildings should be designed accordingly to get the benefits of this source of energy. There are specific indicators/ or parameters that need to be addressed including solar radiation, ambient temperature and cloudy days. The solar technologies can be grouped into two classes as per the way they are distributed, captured and converted. These include active and passive solar techniques. Active solar techniques have to do with the use of solar thermal collectors, photovoltaic panels to exploit solar energy. The passive techniques relate to the orientation of a building in line with the direction of sunlight as well as suitable materials in terms of thermal mass and photoelectric properties ("Solar energy," 2014).
3.1Benefits of Solar Energy
Solar energy has lots of benefits. With the advancement in technology, it is predicted that the world will rely on renewable energy source in the future. There are some of the major benefits of solar energy as mentioned:
3.1.1 Renewable Source
Solar energy is sustainable and renewable connotes lots of pros.It needs less maintenance cost during the operational period. Once the solar panel or devices have been installed, the maintenance can be done yearly. Therefore, with solar energy cost can be saved in the maintenance process. In addition, as technology further advances, the cost of production of solar panels goes down and their efficiency increase. Research showed that the world's oil reserves will get exhausted in the next 30 or 40 years; however, solar energy is both renewable and infinite (Eshraghia et al. (2014)"Benefits of solar," 2014; Ryan, 2009).
3.1.2 Relationship with Public Utilities
The relationship with local utilities will improve if one install solar panels in the home. That is because when one generates power with solar energy, one becomes independent from the local utilities to a significant extent. As a matter of fact, the solar panel may not supply all energy needs in some cases, and consequently you will not depend solely on conventional energy sources and; therefore, you will spend less on them. One may even sell surplus energy to local utility company and get economic benefits, and this can be a secondary source of income. (Wright, 2013).
3.1.3 Financial Incentives
The federal and state governments give incentives to install solar panels or heating devices in their homes. In some regions, businesses can even be benefits from this incentive. One may enjoy tax credit with this incentive and many more benefits (Wright, 2013).
3.1.4 Reduced Impact on the Environment
The environmental impact of solar energy is minimal when compared with other sources of energy as fossil fuel. The energy produced is free from methane, particulate matters and carbon. Solar panels can even be placed at rooftop and even in desert regions and hence they will not take up space meant for other important things.
3.1.5 Labour Intensiveness
The labour intensiveness of the solar power industry has resulted in the generation of untold opportunities of employments. It will not affect employment generated by the fossil fuel industry, but it helps in reducing the unemployment in the world. The jobs available in the solar energy industry involve traders, installation technicians, battery-storage designers, and so forth (Wright, 2013).
3.1.6 Geographical Benefits
Some countries in the world blessed with lots of petroleum deposits and hence other countries that do not have such deposit rely on these countries. The United States for instance relies on some other countries for its fossil fuel. In some cases, the US was forced to make some compromise in order to gain uninterrupted import of petroleum. However, with solar energy, the end will be put to this as the US and some other countries will use solar energy for powering their plants, cars, electricity and so forth.
3.1.7 Security on the Grid
The number one target of enemies in any country is the grid. Enemies try to disrupt the electric power supply in the nation by attacking the grid. That is easily done and has happened several times in the United States. Moreover, natural disasters as floods and storms can wreck havoc on the grid and cause some blowouts. With solar energy as the energy source of the country, these menaces can be greatly reduced and tracked with the use of a decentralized solar-supported grid ("Benefits of solar," 2013).
3.2 Applications of Solar Energy
Solar energy has different applications. Most of these applications still need to be implemented, but many of them are already being practiced. Below are the applications of solar energy.
- The structural design and architecture of the building is influenced by solar light,
- It is largely applied in horticulture and agriculture as the energy is leveraged to ramp up plants productivity,
- Solar energy is used in military exploration and transportation,
- Solar thermal plants can be employed in solar heating, solar cooling, water heating and so forth,
- Use of solar cookers in homes and restaurants,
- Solar energy provides employment in the generation of electricity by converting sunlight directly into electricity using photovoltaics (PV). An indirect process can be leveraged using concentrated solar power (CSP) ("Solar energy," 2014).
3.3 Other Benefits of Solar Energy
There are many other benefits of solar energy besides the aforementioned ones. It is a free energy although costs are involved in building collectors and solar equipments. In addition, solar energy production is a pollution-free process, and solar power can be used in powering low power consuming devices like calculators. With solar energy, our environment will become healthier and better health can be achieved. Solar energy production also strengthens local and national economies and results to more efficient electricity network. The world has not fully harnessed solar energy. It is one of the aspects of technology that is expected to boost technological growth in years to come ("Benefits of solar," 2013; Ryan, 2009).
3.4 Review of Case Studies and Benefits
Solar energy is in use in many countries of the word and further studies to improve and implement this technology are in way.
3.4.1 Review of Solar Energy in Sweden
Kanters, Wall, & Duboi (2014) conducted a study on solar energy and revealed that there is an urgency need of this sustainable energy in urban areas. They studied different cities of Sweden in order to develop a state of art planning. The results showed that the solar energy can contribute up to 50 percent of the need in urban areas.
3.4.2 Solar Sea Water Desalination Plant in UAE
Abu Dhabi installed fist ever commercial solar desalination plant in 1983.The design, procurement and manufacturing of this plant started in February 1983, and it was commissioned in September 1984. The plant was planned as a demonstration unit aimed at evaluating the technological and economic feasibility of utilizing solar energy engineering science to provide remote coastal communities in the UAE with fresh water. That solar desalination plant provided the utmost reduction of negative environmental impacts by employment this innovative solution and best management practice
3.4.3 Review of Solar Energy in Iran
As per Eshraghia et al. (2014), the contribution of oil and gas energy source in the greenhouse effect is almost 25 percent by energy used in the building, in Iran. They emphasized on the use of solar energy in building and designed many utilities using solar energy. One of their designs includes solar energy system for a house that was calculated on the base of 233 gph. Figure 1 presenting the schematic diagram of their solar panel for hot water.
Figure 1 Schematic representation of hot water solar system in a building
Source adopted: Eshraghia et al. (2014)
3.4.4 Evaluation of Solar Energy Consumption in USA
Figure 2 Twenty Years Solar Energy Consumption in different regions
Source adopted: ("Benefits of solar," 2013
Even having numerous befits, there are some demerits of solar energy. These demerits include:
- It can only be harnessed in a sunny daytime,
- High cost of solar panels, collectors and cells,
- Expenditures on construction of building solar power stations,
- They seldom produce enough power, and unreliable in countries with uncertain climate as the UK,
- Requirement of enormous land area in capturing solar energy with the use of collectors and so forth.
The future technological and economic growth of the world relies so much on solar energy. Although this aspect of technology is not new, it is still growing. Solar energy has so many benefits as aforementioned. These benefits cut across different aspects of life and, therefore, solar energy has the potency of advancing the life of mankind here on earth tremendously. However, there are some demerits of solar energy as high cost of solar panels, collectors and cells and so forth.These demerits are more than the counter balanced by the pros and benefits of solar energy. In addition, with technological advancement the above mentioned demerits will be tracked and corrected. Of course, many of them are already been addressed. For instance, the prices of solar panels, cells and collectors are falling rapidly. Solar energy is advancing in all facets, and the world is turning to a better place. The word can begin leveraging this high end technology in businesses, home, offices and so forth to reap the untold benefits it presents.
Benefits of solar energy: 3 benefits unknown to most people (December 05, 2013). [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://costofsolar.com/benefits-of-solar-energy/
Benefits of solar energy (2014). [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://www.greenoughsolarfarm.com.au/solar-energy/benefits-solar-energy
Eshraghia,J., Narjabadifama, N., Mirkhani, N., Khosroshahi S.S. & Ashjaee M.(2014).A comprehensive feasibility study of applying solar– energy to design a zero – energy building for typical homes in Tehran, Energy and Buildings.72 329–339.
Kanters, J, Wall, M., & Duboi, M. (2014).Typical values for active – solar energy in urban planning, Energy Procedia, 48, 1607-1616.
Ryan, V. (2009). Advantages and disadvantages of solar power [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://www.technologystudent.com/energy1/solar7.htm
Solar energy (April 09, 2014).FL: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. [Online].Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_energy.
Wright, S. (2013, July 27). Five benefits of solar energy [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://theenergycollective.com/whirlwindsteel/247416/how-solar-power-benefits-society